Uranium mining in the Alligator Rivers Region
Koongarra uranium mine
The Koongarra uranium deposit is next to the escarpment 30 km south of Ranger and 3 km east of Nourlangie Rock in a valley bounded by Mount Brockman outlier and the Arnhem Land plateau. The orebody lies entirely within the catchment of Koongarra Creek which feeds the Nourlangie Creek and into the South Alligator River. The estimated uranium (U308) yield from the two orebodies is estimated to be 14 540 tonnes containing an average grade of 0.8% of uranium. The poorly defined lower orebody is estimated to contain 2000 tonnes of uranium at a grade of 0.3% but does not form part of the estimated reserves.
The deposit was discovered in 1970 by Noranda Australia Ltd. The lease was taken over by Denison Australia Pty Ltd following which a draft EIS was submitted to the Australian Government. The final EIS was approved in 1981, although the mine was never developed.
The project is currently being reassessed by Koongarra Pty Ltd, a subsidiary of the French company AREVA, who fully acquired interest in the project in 1995.
The site is subject to provisions of the Commonwealth Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Act 1976, which requires that traditional owner consent must be obtained before any application for an exploration licence can be approved by the Northern Territory Government.
The Koongarra lease application was placed into a 5 year moratorium in 2000. At the cessation of the moratorium period in May 2005 Koongarra Pty Ltd recommenced discussions with traditional Aboriginal owners and the Northern Land Council. These discussions are currently ongoing. Should Koongarra Pty Ltd obtain consent and wish to develop the deposit, further environmental impact assessment would also be required.